Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

August 31, 2019

JOHN MAYALL, “LIVE IN EUROPE” (London Records LP, PS 589, issued in 1971)

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JOHN MAYALL, “LIVE IN EUROPE” —  London Records (USA) PS 589, released 1971

originally issued in the UK in 1968 as “Diary of a Band, Volume Two”

lineup: John Mayall, keyboards, vocals, harp, leader

Mick Taylor, guitar / Keith Tillman, bass / Keef Hartley, drums

Chris Mercer, tenor and sop. sax / Dick Heckstall-Smith, tenor and bari. sax

live recordings made in the UK, Holland, and Ireland, circa November/December 1967

mayall europe

Listening to this album while working this afternoon, in late August 2019, it dawned on me that I have owned JOHN MAYALL, LIVE IN EUROPE for 48 years (!), and I’ve played it regularly ever since. Why would anyone treasure such an album, a live album with bootleg-level sound quality, issued in the US three years after its original UK release by Mayall’s  former American label to capitalize on his success at a new label (Polydor) and of course to capitalize on Mick Taylor’s fame as one of the Rolling Stones.

One reason is that by any standard it’s a raw and exciting album of British Blues, with extended versions of the songs and with a “live” club sound so authentic you can taste the watered-down drinks and the cigarette smoke. As a 13-year-old, I was quite impressed with the album, having already been into Mayall since about 1968, when I first heard JOHN MAYALL’S BLUESBREAKERS CRUSADE as a 10-year-old….that’s why when Mick Taylor was chosen to join the Rolling Stones, I’d already heard of him. As a boy of 10-12, I could afford maybe three new LP’s a year, with allowance, lawn-mowing money, and birthday/Xmas presents. I made sure that each new Mayall (and Kinks) album was at the top of my want list. I also could pick up cut-outs here and there to fill the gaps, and as those were often 99 cents (or even 47 cents), I could afford those with pocket change, and thankfully, my parents would give me a few quarters if I were short, knowing how much I loved music.

I can remember the radio ad for LIVE IN EUROPE as if it’s yesterday, on radio station KFML in Denver, the “underground” station, which had both an AM and FM version. I’m not sure if it was a locally made ad or one provided by the label, but it had some FM disc-jockey sounding voice talking about Mayall’s devotion to blues music and how it has cost  him wider fame, over a bed of music from the album, which sounded intriguingly raw to my young ears. I remember some of the language in the ad being “Mayall has been laughed at, scorned….”, and if the intent was to sell Mayall as “the real thing” to the FM underground audience of 1971 (as opposed to, say, The Rolling Stones, Mick Taylor’s then-current employers), it worked on me. I believe the record was on sale for $3.99, and I took the bus to Independent Records on West Colfax, between Sheridan and Wadsworth, to get my copy (this store was where, a year or two later, I was first exposed to bootleg LP’s). I bought most of Mayall’s Polydor LP’s at that store too.

I’d already heard bootleg-quality live recordings from some of the cut-outs on the Charlie Parker Records label…see my piece on the CP 30-cd box set, elsewhere on this blog–         (  CP Box  )… by that time I had one of the Parker and one of the Lester Young sets, and I considered those magical as they took me to the venue and the gig itself in a way that studio recordings never could (and I heard those recordings of Bird and Prez before I’d ever heard their studio recordings). I’d also gotten blues albums by the likes of Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Lightnin Hopkins in those same cut-out racks and played them all the time. So to have a raw live album by one of my musical heroes, with extended workouts, probably recorded at 2 a.m. in some sweaty blues club in the Europe of my adolescent imagination was quite a delicious and satisfying experience for the 13-year-old me!

mayall europe 2

And did the actual album meet and exceed my expectations! Side one, running 24 minutes, had two extended slow-burners, with long, relaxed but tension-filled solos from Mick Taylor, the aching vocals of Mayall swirling around his organ lines, hot sax solos, and the powerhouse drumming of Keef Hartley. Side two, however, really jumped into the deep end of the pool. The first track isn’t even a “song,” but Mayall and the band’s introductions and interactions with well-lubricated club patrons, as well as sarcastic asides from Hartley, whose accent is so thick I could only make out half of what he was saying. That is followed by a solid 7-minute version of Sonny Boy II’s “Help Me,” and then a 5-minute slow smoldering blues featuring the sax players. The album closes with an excerpt from a long jam with banter between Hartley and Mercer, a ferocious drum solo from Hartley (always a crowd-pleaser…. there’s a Mayall live album with recordings from 72 or 73 floating around called SMOKIN’ BLUES that features Hartley on drums, and live he’s very much a British Blues version of the Buddy Rich/Gene Krupa-style drummer, someone who knows how to work an audience), and then a closing chorus from the whole band. It ends on a climax, and you’re ready to flip the album over and put the needle in the groove at the beginning of side one again….at least I am.

I don’t remember this album making much of a splash when it was released. Mayall’s albums for Polydor were coming out in regular succession–USA UNION, THE TURNING POINT, MEMORIES (a mind-blowing concept album with autobiographical lyrics that cut to the quick–), BACK TO THE ROOTS, JAZZ BLUES FUSION, MOVIN ON, TEN YEARS ARE GONE, etc. Those got regular airplay on  KFML and FM “album rock” stations nationally (though after TEN YEARS ARE GONE, Mayall’s popularity waned a bit, and then he moved to ABC Records, when I stopped picking up every Mayall album automatically…I began again with his early 80’s live album on GNP Cresecendo). “Room To Move” was even something of a hit on that level and could be heard daily on the radio. London continued to release older Mayall product in new compilations to compete with his product on other labels, and all of it was amazing–LOOKING BACK, THRU THE YEARS, PRIMAL SOLOS, etc. The version of “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” from LOOKING BACK is (to me) the best thing Eric Clapton ever recorded, and shows why he was so revered during his Mayall period. I’ve never been much of a Clapton fan otherwise, but anyone who could play the way he did there (and elsewhere) during the Mayall and Yardbirds years must surely still “have it” somewhere within him. Or maybe there is some Clapton live blues bootleg out there that will change my mind–I’m open-minded, so please put it on a CDR and mail it to me. Thanks in advance. A few years after LIVE IN EUROPE, I finally got the FIRST album in the series, DIARY OF A BAND, originally issued in the US and UK in 1968 (but in two volumes in the UK, only one here, the second one coming out three years later as LIVE IN EUROPE), which was quite similar and is equally recommended…though that never had the effect on me that LIVE IN EUROPE did because I had EUROPE so early in my development and probably played it daily for two years.

As of this writing, Mayall is still at it, well into his eighties, and he certainly does still have what it takes. Just a year or two ago he issued a wonderful live album with a no-guitar trio (Mayall on keys, a bassist and a drummer), and the tracks were long and one never missed the guitar. And speaking of guitar, Mayall now has Texas’s CAROLYN WONDERLAND playing with him, whom I know and admire from her collaborations with Guy Forsyth. Mayall continues to feature only the finest musicians and gives them a lot of space. God bless John Mayall!

By the way, an interesting, kind but not-entirely-superpositive perspective on John Mayall is provided by jazz/R&B saxophone great RED HOLLOWAY, who worked with Mayall in the early 70’s (Mayall had some amazing L.A.-based jazzmen in his band at that time), and is on the SMOKIN BLUES album mentioned above (in fact, the tours documented on that album are discussed specifically by Holloway). It’s in the second half of an hour-long interview, but you’ll want to listen to the entire thing anyway as Holloway’s background is rich in blues and R&B. He is the perfect example of the old axiom that the basis of jazz is in blues playing. Here’s the link:  Holloway interview

Holloway clearly doesn’t fully appreciate Mayall’s take on the blues (I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to…it would be like asking Gary Cooper or Buck Jones what they thought of Italian westerns, had they lived long enough to see some), but when he comments on the content of Mayall’s lyrics, he shows that he truly DOES get it–he’s just labelling the cup as half empty rather than half full. His comments on Mayall’s audiences not knowing good work from mediocre work (by Holloway’s standards) is also interesting. Coming from a man who spent years playing to Chicago club audiences who knew the real thing because they lived it, one can understand where he’s coming from.

You can still get a copy of LIVE IN EUROPE for under five dollars on Discogs. And there is a British CD that combines both volumes of DIARY OF A BAND into a 2-cd set, which is well-worth tracking down…make sure what you’re ordering is a 2-cd set.

JOHN MAYALL LIVE IN EUROPE came along at the right time for me, and it’s still working its blues-drenched magic nearly 50 years after I bought it. It must be the best $3.99 I ever spent.

mayall europe

August 22, 2019

TEENAGE DREAMS, VOLUME 40: The Final Edition

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TD 40


TD 40 2

Heart Broken – Danny Cagle & the Escorts
Wanda – Randy Loring
That’s The Love – Steve Denver With The Phantoms
Maggie – Sunny Molino With The Chekkers
We Mean More To Each Other – The Centurians
Lonely Tears – Roger Blackwell
Walking At Midnight – Sonny Flaharty
For My Angel – The Vons
Teenage Serenade – Ray Burden
Too Young For Love – Bob Steffek & The Falcons
I Dreamed AboutYou Last Night – Charlie Gore
Twistin’ Irene – The Dinos
The Girl By My Side – Inspirations
i Always Dream Of Barbara – Scott Smith & The Rockets
I Wish – Eric With The Plazas
Oh What An Angle You Are – Dickie Loader & The Blue Jeans
Yo Yo Girl – Dickie & The Debonaires
White Bobby Socks – Bosse Quiding
Blue Guitar – Jan Davis
Unlucky In Love – Freddie Morrison & The Capris
Lonely One – Robert A Irvine
Lonely Girl – Jerry Minton
The Flame – Ralph Miranda
My Truest Love – Dick And Slim & The Satelites
A Woman Of The World – Rockdin C Hoaglund
Jane – Rock Williams & His Fighting Cats
I Thank The lord – Bobby Leone
The Foolish One – Dick Dewayne
Let Me Keep You Company – Johnny Jay
Gee Whiz – Little Angie & The Hi-Lites

TD 40 3

After a 20-or-so year run, with 40 (!!!!!) overstuffed CD’s with 30 or more tracks each of prime late 50’s/early 60’s teen rock and roll (except for one volume which opened with an awful recently-recorded track “in the spirit of the era”), the Teenage Dreams compilation series comes to an end…but it’s better to go out on a high point, and this volume 40 is certainly a solid one, than to keep going and padding future volumes with sub-standard material. Anyone who’s ever collected 45’s of that era knows that there’s a lot of junk out there with awful flat and/or adenoidal lead vocals, or unlistenable cloying backing vocals or insipid Mitch Miller style instrumentation backing the singer, so the compilers of this material have waded through probably hundreds of singles to come up with the 30 tracks on offer here. Teen rock/ highschool rock/ malt shoppe bop, call it what you will, dates from 1957 or so through 1964. These artists wanted to be the new Ricky Nelson, the new Bobby Vee, perhaps the new Dion, maybe the new John Ashley or the new Fabian—-they did not want to be the new Link Wray or the new Gene Vincent. Every area had its teen dances at high schools and VFW halls and CYO events and Masonic Halls, and here in the USA, any town with a few thousand people could have a small label they could record for (and that’s not counting “custom”/vanity pressings, where anyone anywhere with a few hundred dollars could put out a record and potentially compete with Ricky or Buddy or Elvis). Some vocal groups who were not specifically doo-wop or had a charismatic front man who tended to be featured would also qualify for this genre. And yes, there might be some overlap between singles that would wind up on a Collector–White Label LP or singles that would fit on a doo-wop collector’s reissue because there would be that ineffable “teen” quality where the band could potentially play a dance attended by Wally Cleaver and his pals (Beaver was too young), or Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics.

The bands generally rock, although some may have a few strings and a backing chorus—-the better volumes of this series may only have 4 or 5 such tracks, spread out among the 30.

Also, various volumes feature early recordings by people who are better-known for their work after this era…. early tracks by Skip Battin and Steve Barri on various Teenage Dreams volumes come to mind. And it’s great to learn about the local “teen scene” circa 1959 or 1961 in towns such as Corpus Christi or Dayton or Providence or Charlotte…not to mention the well-chosen overseas teen-rockers from places such as New Zealand or Belgium or (as on this album, with the Dickie Loader track) South Africa. Back in the LP era, Collector-White Label issued 3 fine albums of this kind of material from New Zealand called ROCK FROM THE OTHER SIDE, which are highly recommended (those leaned toward more of a harder R&R sound, but the “teener” feel was there most of the time).

I have about 20 of the 40 volumes and must say that they’ve provided me with endless hours of joy, particularly on road trips where it’s like the ultimate malt shoppe jukebox of fresh material you’d find in a dream. One could never “find” these kind of things out in the wild nowadays, and I never participate in online auctions, so the anonymous European compilers of this material, who know more about the nuts and bolts of the local US post-Elvis, pre-Beatles teen sound than I ever will, have really done us all a public service by making this exciting and enjoyable music available. Oh, there are other series mining this vein—-I’ve reviewed some of them in Ugly Things magazine, and I assume they will continue (the albums on the “Classics” label from Sweden are particularly fine), but those of us who love small-label original rock and roll featuring local-scene teen-idols should tip our hats to the folks at Teenie Weenie Records for sticking with this series for two decades or more….and keeping the quality high. I will raise a chocolate malt in their honor….

TD 40 4


TD 40 5


td 40 6



Sunny Molino with the Chekkers

August 7, 2019

CLASSICS COMPLEMENTARY TRACKS (France, 3-CD set, Classics #24)

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3-cd set, released 1999, Classics #24 (France)

contains 1924-1949 recordings

Between 1990 and 2004, the French “Classics Records” label issued over 1000 CD’s, chronological multi-volume sets of the 78 rpm recordings of great jazz and swing artists…and later R&B through their Classics R&B subsidiary (think of it as a jazz version of Document Records, but without the alternate takes). Multiple releases were out each month, and early on, I knew that it would be silly (and financially impossible) to attempt try to get them all or even many of them. Instead, I tried to focus on bodies of work that had not really been reissued adequately (SEVEN volumes of Erskine Hawkins, for instance, or four volumes of Bennie Moten, or as many of the Fletcher Hendersons as I could afford, etc.) or periods in an artist’s career that had evaded reissue at that time (Ellington’s post WWII but pre-LP-era Columbia recordings). Also, I sought out lesser-known artists whose bodies of work I’d always wanted to hear….TWO cd’s of the complete Boots and His Buddies, for instance. To say that these albums were a revelation is an understatement.

As with the many Document CD’s I own, the Classics discs are pretty much always in regular rotation here. It’s hard to imagine now, but because of the distribution clout of Allegro Music (which later burned so many indie labels badly and was largely responsible for Document Records de-emphasizing physical media), these discs—-at least some of them—-would appear in American music stores such as Tower, Best Buy, and Circuit City. They’d usually have one copy of each, and if you wanted it, you had to pick it up quick. I would usually scout the local stores each month at payday. (Another amazing phenomenon during this period was that American labels would sometimes distribute the jazz releases of their Japanese subsidiaries! I wonder sometimes if that era was just a dream. The Circuit City in my neighborhood had the 10-CD Japanese Phonogram box of the complete Clifford Brown, which was listed for about $90. I could not afford that, but I looked at it every time I visited. After about four months of it not selling, it was lowered to $29.99….I took the plunge….it still has a prominent place in my collection, and it’s never far from my main CD player) And in the early to mid 1990’s, retailers prided themselves on having as many different releases as possible….as the years went by, the emphasis became many copies of a handful of new releases. Things became less interesting at the point, and listeners with specialized tastes had no choice but to buy online. We all know what eventually happened with that!

One day in 1999, at my local retailer (sorry, I don’t remember which), I saw a Classics label 3-cd set called COMPLEMENTARY TRACKS (technically, it was a 2 cd set with a free bonus cd), and it had a sticker on the front (which I’ve saved) saying “This Set is NOT a Sampler!” It looked like an interesting combination of lesser-known, un-reissued artists (Garnet Clark, Midge Williams, Alphonso Trent, Ella Logan, Jerry Kruger) and obscure, often late-period recordings by well-known artists for obscure labels (1943 and 1946 sessions by Don Redman, 1945 and 1949 sessions from Fletcher Henderson, a 1945 session from Luis Russell, an obscure Slim Gaillard one-off for a tiny L.A. label). The track listing for the third “bonus” CD was not listed on the back cover, but hey, there were enough gems already on the first two CD’s to warrant this purchase.

I never saw another physical copy of this set in my travels to jazz-focused record stores in various cities, and I see that it is now selling (only one copy available) for $107 on Discogs. I assume those of you who know how to download music from various foreign hosting sites can find this album somewhere out there. The rest of you, keep your eyes out and maybe some record store will sell a copy for maybe $25 or whatever, ignoring the price on Discogs, and you can have your own copy of this amazing set, something which only could have been released during the golden age of archival CD reissues of vintage music. It belongs on the same shelf as the Savoy Completer Disc and the Verve Elite Edition compilation I’ve reviewed elsewhere here at the KSE blog.

Here’s what the Classics label itself said about this curious release: This two CD set (plus a bonus CD) includes tracks not available in the Classics series. The bonus CD corrects errors featured in different Classics releases

Since it’s unlikely you’ll be finding a copy of this soon, let me provide my own guide/commentary to what’s on the 3 CD’s.

Compact Disc 1
1-1 –Chick Webb And His Orchestra
Who Ya Hunchin’
1-2 –Chick Webb And His Orchestra
In The Groove At The Grove

The final two instrumentals from the Webb band, which did not fit on their non-Ella Fitzgerald collections of Webb’s records
1-3 –Taft Jordan And The Mob
Night Wind
1-4 –Taft Jordan And The Mob
If The Moon Turns Green
1-5 –Taft Jordan And The Mob
Devil In The Moon
1-6 –Taft Jordan And The Mob
Louisiana Fairy Tale

These 1935 tracks for “Banner” are the only pre-1950 recordings under his own name by the great Armstrong-inspired trumpeter, a man often mentioned in jazz lore and interviews with musicians from the period….also featuring pianist Teddy Wilson
1-7 –Al Cooper And His Savoy Sultans
1-8 –Al Cooper And His Savoy Sultans
Fish For Supper
1-9 –Al Cooper And His Savoy Sultans
‘Ats In There
1-10 –Al Cooper And His Savoy Sultans
Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

The final session, from 1941, from this great NYC combo, which did not fit on their Classics CD….and that CD was one I definitely bought since the band was a legend for their exciting performances at the Savoy Ballroom, but their recordings seemed to evade reissue
1-11 –Jerry Kruger And Her Orchestra*
Rain, Rain, Go Away
1-12 –Jerry Kruger And Her Orchestra*

Female vocalist, tracks from 1939, with Buck Clayton and Lester Young
1-13 –Don Redman And His Orchestra
Pistol Packin’ Mama
1-14 –Don Redman And His Orchestra
Redman Blues
1-15 –Don Redman And His Orchestra
Great Day In The Morning

Don Redman was, along with Fletcher Henderson–in whose band he was arranger circa 1923-24–the key architect of the jazz orchestra of the 1920’s, and by extension the fore-runner of the swing orchestras of the 1930’s and beyond. First we have three wonderful V-Discs from 1943, with Redman himself providing witty spoken introductions. Redman sings on one track, and anyone who’s ever heard his classic version of  “Cherry” with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers knows the unique “personality” vocals of Redman in his signature lazy style–fans of Johnny Mercer’s singing would enjoy Redman’s.
1-16 –Don Redman’s Orchestra*
Midnite Mood
1-17 –Don Redman’s Orchestra*
Dark Glasses
1-18 –Don Redman’s Orchestra*
Mickey Finn
1-19 –Don Redman’s Orchestra*
Carrie Mae Blues

An obscure 1946 session for a label called “Swan,” which was NOT the later Philadelphia label of Freddy Cannon, Link Wray, and Beatles fame
1-20 –Alphonso Trent And His Orchestra
1-21 –Alphonso Trent And His Orchestra
I Found A New Baby

Interesting territory band, also featured on a Jazz Oracle CD, with very-late Gennett sessions released on the Champion subsidiary
1-22 –Luis Russell And His Orchestra
After Hour Creep
1-23 –Luis Russell And His Orchestra
Garbage Man Blues

Tracks not included on the Russell CD #1066….the latter track is the classic “stick out your can, here comes the garbage man” which became a standard in the blues/R&B world
1-24 –Chickasaw Syncopators
Chickasaw Stomp
1-25 –Chickasaw Syncopators
Memphis Rag

The sizzling hot 1927 Memphis session by the young musicians who later became the Jimmie Lunceford band
Compact Disc 2
2-1 –Garnet Clark
I Got Rhythm

American pianist who came to Europe with Benny Carter in 1935 and stayed there….he died young, and made only two sessions, this track recorded in Paris and issued only on a French 78
2-2 –Midge Williams, Columbia Jazz Band
St. Louis Blues
2-3 –Midge Williams, Columbia Jazz Band
Lazy Bones
2-4 –Midge Williams, Columbia Jazz Band

Talk about obscure….this African-American pianist made these recordings in Japan with Japanese musicians for a Japanese label in 1934! Hearing a Japanese ensemble tackle these well-known songs, with a fine American pianist at the helm, is an experience!
2-5 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
King Porter Stomp
2-6 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Moten Swing
2-7 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Minor Riff
2-8 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Satchel Mouth Baby

1945 L.A. sessions for Musicraft, which went unissued at the time and came out only during the LP era
2-9 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Close Your Eyes
2-10 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
This Is Everything I Prayed For
2-11 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
2-12 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Ain’t Losing You

An obscure 1949 session–very late for FH–from L.A. for the local Supreme label, featuring the vocals of Troy Floyd
2-13 –The Red Onion Jazz Babies
Of All The Wrongs You Done To Me
2-14 –The Red Onion Jazz Babies
Terrible Blues
2-15 –The Red Onion Jazz Babies
Santa Claus Blues
2-16 –The Red Onion Jazz Babies
Cake Walking Babies From Home

Seminal 1924 recordings for Gennett, featuring the young Louis Armstrong
2-17 –Perry Bradford Jazz Phools
Lucy Long
2-18 –Perry Bradford Jazz Phools
I Ain’t Gonna Play No Second Fiddle

A 1925 record from a band fronted by Bradford (there’s a piece about him elsewhere on this blog–just search for PERRY BRADFORD AND THE BLUES SINGERS in the search box), featuring Armstrong, Don Redman, and James P. Johnson
2-19 –Evelyn Preer
If You Can’t Hold The Man You Love

The great actress and vocalist, whose work can be found on various Document CD’s, is backed by the core of Duke Ellington’s band here
2-20 –Walter Page’s Blue Devils
Blue Devil Blues
2-21 –Walter Page’s Blue Devils

From the classic Kansas City band (remember the seminal film LAST OF THE BLUE DEVILS?) 1929 recordings, including the young Hot Lips Page and the young Jimmy Rushing
2-22 –Omer Simeon
Smoke-House Blues
2-23 –Omer Simeon
Beau-Koo Jack

The New Orleans clarinetist, also associated with Jelly Roll Morton, on this 1929 recording made in Chicago, one side of which features Earl Hines on piano
2-24 –Ella Logan And The Spirits Of Rhythm*
Exactly Like You

The famous Jive vocal trio, an unissued 1941 recording
2-25 –Slim Gaillard Quartet*
Froglegs And Bourbon

An obscure track by the master of Vout-O-Reenee, recorded for the L.A. “Bee Bee” label, though not originally released.

BONUS DISC (Disc 3)  this might be called the “corrections” disc

3-1 –Art Tatum
I Would Do Anything For You
3-2 –Benny Carter
Tiger Rag
3-3 –Jimmie Lunceford
Bugs Parade
3-4 –Duke Ellington
Wall Street Wail
3-5 –Luis Russell
Poor Lil’ Me
3-6 –Cab Calloway
Are You Hep To The Jive
3-7 –Lucky Millinder
All The Time
3-8 –Billie Holiday
On The Sentimental Side
Tracks 1 through 8 of Disc 3 are “corrected” versions of songs from earlier CD’s where the wrong version or the wrong take appeared….these tracks “correct” those errors.
3-9 –Pete Johnson
Pete’s Lonesome Blues
3-10 –Pete Johnson
Mr. Drums Meets Mr. Piano
3-11 –Pete Johnson
Mutiny In The Doghouse
3-12 –Pete Johnson
Mr. Clarinet Knocks Twice
3-13 –Pete Johnson
Ben Rides Out
3-14 –Pete Johnson
Page Mr. Trumpet
3-15 –Pete Johnson
J.C. From K.C.
3-16 –Pete Johnson
Pete’s Housewarming Blues

These tracks, which are also collected on a Savoy album called PETE’S BLUES, had spoken intros with boogie woogie piano master Johnson inviting different musicians to join him in a house party….those spoken intros were lopped off of the earlier Classics CD on which the tracks appeared….they are “corrected” by the complete versions here.
3-17 –Bunny Berigan
It’s Been So Long
3-18 –Bunny Berigan
I’d Rather Lead A Band
3-19 –Bunny Berigan
Let Yourself Go
3-20 –Bunny Berigan
A Melody From The Sky
3-21 –Bunny Berigan
Rhythm Saved The World
3-22 –Bunny Berigan
I Nearly Let Love Go Slippin’ Thru’ My Fingers
3-23 –Bunny Berigan
But Definitely
3-24 –Bunny Berigan
If I Had My Way

Any fan of trumpeter Bunny Berigan knows that he was a sideman on hundreds of records, many of which contain exciting solos from him….evidently, when Classics reissued sides on an earlier CD that Berigan recorded with vocalist Chick Bullock, they edited out the vocal choruses to feature Berigan’s soloing! I guess the folks at Classics did not like Bullock’s vocalizing–he’s in the same vein as session vocalists such as Dick Robertson, Smith Ballew, etc. Anyone who listens to a lot of 20s and 30s dance bands is used to those kind of vocals, and some are worse than others. Bullock would be considered “above average” among those session vocalists, and does not really have the stilted nasal sound one associates with 20s vocalists such as Irving Kaufman. Now Classics presents the full records as they were originally issued, with Bullock’s vocals, as they should have been issued originally. Hey, I wish I could cut out most of Mezz Mezzrow’s solos on various jazz recordings from the 20’s through the 40’s, but doing so is re-writing history.


While this 3-CD set was intended as a collection of rarities, allowing collectors to fill gaps in their exhaustive archives, it works incredibly well as a jazz sampler for the general audience too, and the material will certainly be fresh….even a Fletcher Henderson and Don Redman connoisseur such as yours truly had never heard, or heard of (I may have seen the Henderson ones listed in the Hendersonia Discography), the sessions here. If you can find this, grab it. Or if it’s online, go for it.

I won’t be parting with my copy anytime soon….

ADDENDUM….if you don’t have enough with the 1000+ albums on classics and this three-cd mopping-up set, there is an Austrian label called NEATWORK which collects, for a number of major jazz artists, the ALTERNATE TAKES, in chronological order, left off the Classics CD’s. Discogs lists between 40 and 50 CD’s on that label. The 10 cd’s of alternate Ellington are essential, as are the multiple volumes devoted to Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Teddy Wilson, and Eddie Condon. They’re probably ALL essential, but I had to focus on the ones most important to me, as these things cost money….


July 28, 2019

Frank Virtue and The Virtues, “Hop, Skip and Jump: 1955-1962” (Hydra Records, Germany, CD)

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“Hop, Skip and Jump” (Hydra Records, Germany, CD issued in 1997)

30 tracks recorded in Philadelphia, mostly recorded between 1955 and 1959


 1  Roll ‘in An ‘a’ Rockin’
2  Straighten Up & Flyright
3  Rattle My Bones
4  Guitar Boogie Shuffle
5  My Blue Heaven
6  I Think You’re Lying
7  Let’s Have A Party
8  Hop Skip Mambo
9  Corrine Corrina
10  Boppin’ The Blues
11  Stranded In The Jungle
12  Flippin’ In
13  I Ain’t Gonna Do It No More
14  Mambo Rock
15  Rip It Up
16  My Constant Love
17  I Made A Mistake
18  Oo Ya Gotta
19  Lover Boy
20  Go Joe Go
21  Can’t We Be Sweethearts
22  Fever
23  Rose Of San Antone
24  Hallelujah I Love Her So
25  Charleston Twist
26  Mountaineer Teen Break
27  Toodle Oo Kangaroo
28  Roll Over Beethoven
29  I’m Going Home
30  Good Bye Mambo.

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There is a lot of mis-informed discussion printed both online and in books and magazines about the early days of rock and roll and the pre R&R days by people who have not actually listened to a lot of small-label recordings from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. People like the late Billy Miller or the late Cub Koda or The Hound or Bill Dahl you could trust because they’d listened to thousands of records from that era, and knew their R&B and country boogie inside out. They’d listened to the source recordings, not just read about them….or used someone else’s third-hand generalities as the evidence for their claims.

One of the most important (though not most often discussed) streams that fed into the river that was 50’s rock and roll was the nightclub “jive” tradition from the Northeastern United States, often with Philadelphia as its home base. Artists such as the pre-Cameo Charlie Gracie, Freddie Bell and the Bellboys (whose arrangement of “Hound Dog” was adapted by Elvis), Bill Haley, Mike Pedicin, Jimmy Cavallo/Cavello, and many others were doing a music rooted in Louis Prima and without the cultural influence of the American South you would find in someone from Memphis or Mississippi or Houston, where country music was the native and dominant  music of the region, and where young white musicians would grow up alongside African-American blues artists, even during the days of legalized segregation, and hear local blues and R&B records by local artists on local radio stations.

These kind of artists were issuing records as early as 1951 and 1952 which are by any standard rock and roll, and for every Haley or Cavallo or Gracie who was recording in that era, there were surely dozens or hundreds working the local lounges and Italian restaurants and lower-tier nightclubs of the Northeast. On a German collectors album devoted to Charlie Gracie, which includes all of his amazing pre-Cameo rock and roll records (he was somewhat watered down by Cameo, as many other artists were), there is a 1952 TV appearance from a Philly broadcast hosted by Paul Whiteman, where Gracie does a solo vocal-and-guitar performance which is a full two years before Elvis’ first Sun Records, and while it’s quite different, it’s a totally original SOLO rock and roll performance, one of the earliest, and in a just world, it would be anthologized widely and be well known and cited often and included in documentaries. It isn’t (and it’s not on You Tube, or I’d provide a link).

A lot of these artists tended to be “entertainers,” where the show element of a performance was important, and a frontman with good people skills and a line of jive patter was essential. While we can never find ourselves in a New Jersey Italian restaurant and lounge in 1954 featuring such an artist (as we enjoy our linguini with clam sauce), the album under review today will get you as close as you can possibly get in 2019 to that magical world.

Frank Virtue is probably best-known today for his massive instrumental hit “Guitar Boogie Shuffle,” a rock and roll guitar adaptation of Arthur Smith’s “Guitar Boogie,” and for his Philadelphia studio (see pic) where hundreds of great local singles were recorded over the decades (he also mastered the Beatles single on Swan!). “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” by Frank Virtue and The Virtues was issued in a number of countries and has been reissued many times, along with album-length collections of the Virtue band’s instrumental rockers (which, it should be mentioned, featured JIMMY BRUNO on lead guitar, who had a long career as a jazz guitarist and has a number of albums out you can still find today). Everyone should own a collection of The Virtues instrumentals, but that’s not what’s being discussed today.

Leave it to Hydra Records in Germany (check out their amazing catalog of deep archival digs of early rock and roll) to compile the ultimate collection of little-known and largely unreleased VOCAL recordings from Virtue and crew—-if you want to know what a typical nightclub set circa 1955 or 1956 from a Philly-based act that would use the word “rockin” in its advertising, this is it, 30 tracks worth.

The earliest 1955 recordings here, with an unknown female vocalist, still have the influence of the vocal trios of the big band era, but built on the chassis of a small guitar-based combo, and the rest of the tracks here are the kind of small-group jive-rock discussed above, sometimes with a booting tenor-sax. As would be expected and appreciated by nightclub and lounge audiences, a number of the tracks are rockin’ adaptations of standards such as “My Blue Heaven,”  “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” and “Rose of San Antone,” alongside doo-wop influenced tunes such as “Can’t We Be Sweethearts” and THREE (count em!) tracks that exploit the mambo-rock fad.

The vocalists (who include frontman Virtue) vary, and sometimes have more enthusiasm than great technique, but enthusiasm and a raspy tone are what rock and roll singing is about—-hey, even today there are artists milking this vein, often working cliched Italian-American stereotypes into the act (I saw one about six months ago at a lounge here in San Antonio! A transplanted upstate New Yorker who was “working” us Texas locals, telling us how this song and that excited the customers at “Vinnie’s Pizzeria” or whatever—-I suppose this kind of thing is to Jimmy Cavallo or Mike Pedicin what the Blues Brothers were to Junior Wells, and that’s not meant as a compliment) and making Sopranos and Mad Men and Bobby Darin references! It’s a timeless routine!


I’m not claiming the performances on this album, taken from obscure acetates and local 45’s, are the greatest recordings ever made or that they are some unheard 1952 sessions that rewrite musical history. No, what’s special about them is that they are probably VERY typical of a unique movement in the NE USA. They are acetates documenting the act, not intended for airplay or wide release, along with raw local 45’s, which may have been sold from the bandstand or at a neighborhood record shop where Virtue himself night have dropped them off. The “typical” nature of the sides puts you in the moment in mid-50’s Philly or Jersey, and for me that’s an exciting thing. Most of the recordings are from 55-58, but there is also a 1962 twist 45, which sounds like the kind of “custom pressing” you’d find on a Collector/White Label compilation LP.

A name seen often on the credits here is the larger-than-life James Myers/Jimmy De Knight (credited as co-writer of Rock Around The Clock, and you should Google that to read the various perspectives on his authorship of that song), a man whose association guarantees some exploitation value to any project. Jack Howard, longtime Bill Haley friend and associate and man behind many Philly small labels, is credited with producing some of the sides here, as is Dick Clark (!!!!). The liner notes, composed by someone whose first language is German, mention that Clark used the band to record soundalike cover versions for quickie knock-off “covers of hits” records he produced. I was unaware of this side of Clark and don’t know anything about what labels these were issued on. It’s possible some of the selections here are from those knock-off records (they cover Stranded In The Jungle and Blue Suede Shoes and the like). I’d love to know more.

Whatever the source of the sides, they rock from start to finish, with that unique “New Jersey lounge” flavor that cannot be faked (only badly imitated, such as by the band I saw recently). Virtue’s biggest hit, “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” is included here, but otherwise this is the material you DO NOT hear on most Frank Virtue and the Virtues reissues. If you enjoy this kind of music, you should also get the Jimmy Cavallo collection on Blue Wave, the Mike Pedicin collection on Bear Family, the Charlie Gracie collection on Cotton Town Jubilee (or the old Gracie LP on “Revival” from France), any collection of Bill Haley’s pre-Decca sides, and Collector/White Label’s ROCKIN AND BOPPIN ‘BILLY IN PHILLY CD (which has a picture of Frank Virtue on the cover). Also, the European ANORAK ROCKABILLY 45 website had a good number of singles from the Philadelphia ARCADE label available for download a few years ago, and those might still be up—-those are also full of typical club bands of the era, in that amazing era in Philadelphia music history.

Want a taste? Not sure what’s being discussed here? You can listen to the entire album at the link below….put it on while you are doing whatever you’re doing today. And transport yourself to a neighborhood lounge in South Philly, circa 1956, with “famous recording artist” Frank Virtue and The Virtues. I’ll take the wayback machine there anytime….

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listen to this entire sequence of 30 songs at this link:

You Tube: Hop Skip and Jump

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